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Pedal power paying off for Shift Urban Cargo Delivery

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Shift Urban Cargo Delivery began operations last July but is breaking even after one year. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

Shift Urban Cargo Delivery began operations last July but is breaking even after one year. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

As a local bicycle delivery company nears break-even after year in business, an expert analyzing similar projects in Europe has "full faith" the local pedal cargo group will soon switch into high gear.

Shift Urban Cargo Delivery began operations last July, partly funded by grants from the City of Vancouver and other organizations. It currently moves more than 2,700 kilograms around downtown each day.

Speaking at Velo-city Global 2012 cycling conference Thursday, co-owner Kevin Cooper said the company has difficulty meeting demand with just four electric-assisted tricycles.

About 80% of its revenue comes from deliveries, with the remainder from advertisements on its tricycles.

"Bicycle news isn't always bad news," Cooper said. "People quickly forget about the war on the car, or the latest controversial bike lane, when they understand the potential benefits of this type of transportation."

The project has Ton Daggers of the European Union-funded CycleLogistics commending the work.

"People are ordering more by Internet so there are more parcels than before . and in this there's a huge potential for cargo bike delivery companies," he said.

Based on analyses of different bike delivery companies around Europe, Daggers found most startups break-even between six to nine months.